One problem that seems to have pervaded the internet has been fake news. We have literally seen the rise of false information across the board without due recourse to the consequences of spreading lies.
Technology has helped us and also pushed us in the wrong direction. However, the right technologies have also saved humans from themselves in this regard.
One of such technologies is Presearch.
Presearch is a community-oriented decentralized search platform that has created a new paradigm in the search engine industry using blockchain technology.
With over 2 million users and growing, Presearch has been able to prove one more use-case scenario of blockchain technology: in fighting fake news.
Recently, the search engine became the first in the world to integrate timestamping of results. It has helped individuals to identify sources of information and also the date of publishing thus bringing transparency to the process.
We reached out to Colin Pape, founder of Presearch for more information about this.
Here is what he had to say.
Colin Pape, Founder of Presearch
- Congratulations on the labeling of timestamps on search results! What’s next for Presearch?
Thanks! Presearch will work with WordProof to integrate its universal blockchain-based timestamping system into our search results.
This will provide our users with tools they can use to determine when a web page was last edited or updated, and help them verify the source, bringing improved transparency to the web.
Presearch and WordProof have made it a priority to educate consumers on identifying misinformation as they share their progress in completing the full integration.
- How did the fake news problem get so bad?
Today’s web model is driven by advertising and clicks, not the public’s best interest. The pandemic, political turmoil, and civil unrest are creating confusing and scary times, and people have turned to Big Tech services like YouTube and Facebook for answers, which has really exacerbated the fake news problem. In fact, as many as 86 percent of people believe they’ve been exposed to fake news.
- In what ways do you think we can combat the fake news problem?
Fortunately, blockchain technology is showing great promise here. Presearch is a decentralized search engine that gives people the freedom to discover information without algorithms or censorship getting in their way.
Rather than just blindly trusting Google, Facebook, mainstream media outlets or the government, blockchain will enable users to verify data themselves on an open ledger.
- What is your driving mission and vision?
Presearch’s mission is to provide a next-generation search engine powered by the community that provides an alternative to Big Tech. Our vision is to make it easier for people to protect their personal freedom and privacy through decentralized search, while participating in the growth and development of the network.
- How did Presearch get started in the search engine business?
About a decade ago I saw firsthand how monopolistic companies like Google can stifle smaller competitors when my company, ShopCity.com, was penalized by Google, placing our sites on page 8 of the results, in favor of their own competing initiative.
We were asked to participate in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation that was underway, and through our experience, serious questions about how Google manipulates search results were raised.
That inspired me to create a new search engine that is aligned directly with our community of users to level the playing field.
- How has the journey been so far?
We’re very proud of the growing global community we’ve built. Presearch now has more than 2 million registered users and sees more than 1.3 million searches per day, making it one of the most popular blockchain projects.
We’re seeing more and more people understand the need for a more private, open search engine, and that’s made the journey very rewarding already.
- What are the issues with big tech that Presearch wishes to address?
Confidence in the internet is rapidly declining due to censorship, misinformation, and privacy concerns. In the last few years, it’s become abundantly clear that Big Tech isn’t the net positive for society that it claims to be.
My belief is that with advances in blockchain technology, consumers will embrace the growing number of decentralized alternatives like Presearch and society will start chipping away at the beast that is Big Tech.
- In what ways can we improve confidence in the internet?
The best way to improve confidence in the internet is by providing better transparency. When you search online, often you can’t tell when information was published or last edited.
You can’t tell what demographic or interest group you fall into that is causing you to see these search results and ads in the first place.
With better transparency (through time-stamping and providing unbiased results) people can start to gain confidence that what they’re seeing isn’t filtered through the algorithms of Big Tech platforms.
- Please, can you tell us more about WordProof’s ‘Universal blockchain time-stamping system?’
WordProof’s Timestamp Ecosystem helps consumers and search engines to verify the source of content, as well as see when content has been changed or updated.
WordProof uses blockchain technology to create a global standard that helps people verify the origin of the content they find online. Last year, the company received €1 million as the winner of the EU’s ‘Blockchains for Social Good’ contest and is scaling its service globally.
- How have you deployed this technology in a way that zero incidences of fake news exist?
We’re not focused on eliminating fake news, because that’s not up to us or WordProof to decide. We’re not in the business of censorship.
Instead, we’re giving people a way to search the web with more neutral, unbiased results and providing additional tools to evaluate whether they should trust the information they’re viewing online.
- How is Presearch an alternative to big tech?
Google properties account for 92 percent of all searches worldwide. Search engines act as a gateway to online information, and too often, they act as filters that deliver search results based on biases and algorithms that do not serve people’s best interests.
Presearch provides an alternative by deploying blockchain technology to create a decentralized search engine that is free from manipulation or outside influence. Plus, Presearch has never taken venture capital funding and is free from the influence of Silicon Valley.
- Please, can you tell us about your decentralized node powered platform?
Operating a Presearch Node is a powerful way to support decentralization and an open internet. Presearch Nodes are used to process search requests, and node operators earn PRE tokens for contributing their computing resources to the network.
Rewards are paid to all node operators who stake at least 1,000 PRE tokens to their node. You can learn more about the process here: https://nodes.presearch.org/run.
- Please, can you tell us more about the Presearch ecosystem and how the PRE token works?
Presearch has the Ethereum-based PRE token at the heart of its platform. PRE is used as the unit of account and store of value within the Presearch ecosystem, and is the way that value is transferred between stakeholders as they utilize Presearch.
The main use cases for PRE are currently rewards paid to searchers for switching to Presearch and to refer others to the platform, for keyword staking, node staking, and we plan to add a number of new use cases in the future.
- What is the Presearch value system like? Are there ads delivered within the system? How do users get incentivized for their data? Are there data protections in place?
Presearch has its own approach to advertising called keyword staking. Instead of paying cost per click to Google, advertisers stake tokens to keywords to have their ads show up when people search that term.
We’re providing a way for advertisers to reach people through the terms they search, rather than by collecting their personal data.
- What’s your roadmap for 2021?
The immedia focus is on releasing our decentralized search engine mainnet, including an improved mobile app experience and a revised anti-abuse and token management system.
After mainnet is launched, we’re tackling multilingual support, a new non-custodial wallet and some innovative community-driven search modules. You can check out our roadmap here for details: https://www.presearch.io/roadmap
- Where do you see Presearch in the next decade?
We plan to chip away at Google’s monopoly on search while building a sustainable, user-friendly advertising network that totally rethinks the traditional search ad model.
We’ll continue to embrace decentralization and a community-driven approach to growing Presearch globally.
- Please, can you tell us more about your partnership with WordProof?
Presearch is the first search engine in the world to integrate WordProof’s universal blockchain-based timestamping ecosystem, which shows when information was last edited or updated and helps to verify the source, improving trust and transparency on the internet.
We’re very excited to work with WordProof to facilitate more transparent, informative search results on Presearch. By providing tools like WordProof to searchers, we are furthering our mission to empower people with search choice and quality results, while rejecting the bias and manipulation that is all too common online.
- Please, can you tell us more about privacy protection, neutral and unbiased results?
Most Big Tech platforms collect your personal information so that they can sell you ads and personalize the results you see.
With Presearch, we don’t collect user information or searches, so your privacy is protected and the results you see are neutral and unbiased. Ultimately, the community will participate in the information curation process to build our decentralized index.
- Do you have any secrets to tell us? Care to spill the beans?
We’re working on some exciting partnerships, integrations, and upgrades that we look forward to sharing details on soon!
- If you had three wishes and a Genie that could make them come true, what would they be for search engines and their users?
I’d wish for 1) people to ditch Big Tech platforms in favor of decentralized alternatives, 2) people to be able to own their digital identities and personal data, and 3) for advertisers to adopt new models that better protect user privacy.